The Best, Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood edited by Katherine May – review

Published by Elliot and Thompson

Publication date – 19 March 2020

Source – review copy

Motherhood is life-changing. Joyful. Disorientating. Overwhelming. Intense on every level. It’s the best, most awful job.

The Best, Most Awful Job brings together twenty bold and brilliant women to speak about motherhood in all its raw, heart-wrenching, gloriously impossible forms.

Overturning assumptions, breaking down myths and shattering stereotypes, these writers challenge our perceptions of what it means to be a mother – and ask you to listen.

Contributors include:

Michelle Adams – Javaria Akbar – Charlene Allcott – MiMi Aye – Jodi Bartle – Sharmila Chauhan – Josie George – Leah Hazard – Joanne Limburg – Katherine May – Susana Moreira Marques – Dani McClain – Hollie McNish – Saima Mir – Carolina Alvarado Molk – Emily Morris – Jenny Parrott – Huma Qureshi – Peggy Riley – Michelle Tea – Tiphanie Yanique

Motherhood, different to parenthood but yet not. There is an association with the word that separates it from parenthood, heavy with an expectation missing from fatherhood. It is both understood, familiar and yet means so much more than the word can suggest. In this book 20 women each look at motherhood from their prospective. The word is the same but the realities of it never are.

Society attaches much importance to motherhood. Women are often asked, quizzed, grilled about when they are going to have children, have more children, why don’t they want children. What should be an intensily private matter seems to be open to public debate. It’s almost normal. I’ve been guilty of asking the same in the past without really thinking of the ramifications.  Ask a woman if she’s been questioned about her reproductive capabilities or lack of, and I can guarantee the majority will say yes. I was asked the day I gave birth to my second child if I would be having any more. I hadn’t even left the hospital.

Just like each pregnancy is different, each reality of motherhood is different. No woman experiences it in quite the same way. In this collection there are 20 different tales of motherhood. Each one is reality. Each one only breaks the surface of the myriad ways in which raising children affects you as a person, as a woman, a wife, a daughter, a friend. As a human.

In the book we see what it is like to be a single mother, worried about what may be missing but then stopping to see what is there. Another looks at what it is like to be a mother whilst living with a debilitating illness and the worries that can bring. We see impending motherhood from the viewpoint of an adoptive mother, when the wait is far longer than a nine month gestation period. There are stories that look at step-motherhood, surprise babies, motherhood that is shared with a partner, the stigma attached to being a single mother who is black. There are stories dealing with the guilt felt at bringing children into the world who will face racism because they are born into a mixed race family, at the guilt at not following family traditions and the heartbreak of a nearly family, of lost children and lost dreams.

Whilst my situation is unlike any in this book, I found myself reflected in many of the pages. There is the guilt, the feeling of never quite living up to expectation. Am I too soft, too hard, too shouty, too quiet? Do I worry too much about what other people will think? All of these questions were raised and in some cases answered.

This books will make the reader stop and think. Yes there are things that we can all do better. There are always what ifs and if onlys. But it also made me feel better, seen. That whilst I may not be doing the best, at this best, most awful job, I know that if I were to have an end of year appraisal from my children, I’d still end up with an exceed. With a could work harder on giving more hugs perhaps.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Ha, not sure I dare to ask my boys for an end of year appraisal! Maybe we only appreciate mothers once we grow up…


  2. I like the sound of this! I’ve heard Hollie McNish talk about motherhood before and she’s hilarious!


  3. It’s definitely the hardest job going…


    1. janetemson says:

      And the holiday allowance is shocking 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a mother myself but seeing my friends have children I’ve realised parents feel guilty no matter what they do! It’s a mammoth, brilliant thing to do. Your tweets about parenting always make me laugh Janet 😀


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